Thursday, January 03, 2008

Doctor, It Hurts When I Do This....

Motherhood, I'm convinced, has unfit me for understanding politics. Dealing with small children has clearly given me the mistaken impression that simple, accessible solutions are better than complicated ones, and that it is possible to avoid many ill consequences simply with the application of common sense. This will clearly never do.

Small children have no common sense at all, something that most of them will grow out of, unless they run for office. So when my five and three year olds come to me sobbing, because they've conceived an elaborate game involving huring a small, hard ball at the stairs and catching it (some of the time) , as it races back at their faces...except on the cruel and inexplicable (not more than one time out of two) occasions in which it whacks them in the eye...and tell me that it *hurts* when the ball hits them in the eye, and how could anyone have predicted that this might happen, Mommy understands.

In fact, she's got a solution - they could...gasp!...stop throwing the ball at the stairs. The children are stunned, and appalled at the ridiculousness of this solution. Throwing the ball at the stairs is fun!! Why on earth would Mommy ever think that the problem is inherent in the activity, rather than that one, mean ball that swung back and whacked Isaiah in the eye...? What horrible spoilsports Mommies are, they tell me, and, properly united in their contempt for my solution, go off to malign me for not letting them do anything fun.

The reason mothers don't actually eat their young (tempting thought it occasionally is) is that we know their brains simply haven't developed enough yet to apply things like reason and common sense. They simply lack maturity. And most of the time, they are so cute that it is hard to mind too much. Most world leaders, on the other hand, are not cute, but seem to suffer from an intellectually stunting medical condition that one would think would unfit them to lead anything larger than a small goat.

Politics, seen through the lens of motherhood, looks remarkably stupid. So, for example, the hardly surprising news that Saddam Hussein would have taken a big wad of cash and gone into exile seems merely another depressing bit of evidence that the world is run by idiots. Duh - you mean the mass murdering tyrant (let me clarify - I refer to Saddam, here, not *our* mass murdering tyrant) would rather have taken a billion dollars and gone to parties in Paris than been hunted down in a filthy hole, tried and killed by a vastly superior military force? Shocking, really shocking. You mean we didn't have to spend a ton of China' money blowing up Iraq to bring "democracy"? Next you'll be telling me that some Washington insider, like Alan Greenspan has admitted this had something to do with oil!?!

I'm not much more impressed by the discussions of how to get the carbon out the atmosphere. For example this: Let's might take CO2 out of the atmosphere...or it might flood the atmosphere with additional CO2 now locked up in the ocean, potentially rushing us towards an environmental tipping point. Certainly, up until now, we've done so very well playing with technological solutions whose long term effects we simply don't understand...let's just go with another one and see what happens.

Why is it when I read about solutions to climate change that I feel like I'm listening to my children explain why the problem isn't throwing the ball, its the mean old ball's habit of misbehaving - and we could just persuade it to stop. The solution to climate change is this - stop burning the damned stuff. Not easy, especially if you really like the games you've been playing. But it is the answer.

But then, what do Mommies know?




Anonymous said...

Maybe modern culture keeps most people from growing up. I've noticed the same thing, that so many people function at a very thoughtless, immature level.

Anonymous said...

I'm think you may have linked the same article twice? I'm seeing the Saddam article when I select either link, but I'm not seeing the climate change article?

Late Bloomer said...

The problem is money.

Politicians, like any rational human being, are surely capable of identifying the source of a problem and implementing a solution. In fact, most children COULD sort out our problems with climate change: step one - identify the things that are creating the problem, step 2 - stop doing them.

The challenges arise when politicians rely on the donations from the offenders.

In her book "Garbage Land", Elizabeth Royte mentions the need for political citizenship as well as environmental citizenship. I think that you, and most who read you blog, are already engaged environmental citizens. The next step, if not already underway, would be for "ordinary citizens" to increase their engagement in the political process at all three levels of government (civic, state - provincial here in Canada - and federal).

For those of us who haven't typically been engaged (other than relying on mass media for dirt on the candidates and then making a hasty trip to the polling station on election day) the process should start well in advance of an election.

Perhaps a "challenge" is in order? We'll see what I can get to in February - I need to get more active in this area!

On a more general note, I have been reading your blog for a few months now and really enjoy your commentary and suggestions. Your posts are enlightening and inspiring.

Thank you!

Ani said...

Well- the people in charge are enjoying being in charge- the power and the money-and they don't intend to give that up any time soon. Starting a war makes you a "war-time president" with all that goes with it- and allows you to get away with things you wouldn't otherwise. And then there is the legacy factor.....

I really think that we should only choose presidents and other leaders who really don't want the job- it seems that those that do have something really wrong with them.....

riverbird said...

funny, i was having this conversation with my dad just yesterday. folks generally don't have any grasp of the magnitude of things we're talking about. they seem to believe that we can keep playing the 'throw the ball at the stairs game', only using a different ball or a smaller ball or a green ball or a recycled ball, etc. just Stop throwing the ball, period. get it?

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

I completely agree with your assessment of the stupidity of the people who are running the world, but can I just point out that the Daily Mail is not the most intelligent newspaper to be quoting?

connie said...

Ok Sharon, here is a riddle for you.
Tonight for our weekly date my husband and i decided to learn about yeast. As in how do we get yeast when we cannot go to the grocery store any more, and how do we preserve them for future use once we have them? We are not talking about sourdough, but other kinds of yeast. Baker's yeast, brewer's yeast, nutritional yeast....
can you answer our question?
conniebonnie (at) gmail (dot) com

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

Connie --

To start with, I think you need a bit of clarity about what some of these different words mean. Baker's yeast is a fresh yeast that does not keep well for longer than a few weeks. There are certainly techniques for using smaller quantities of yeasts in bread, but ultimately you would need to somehow keep purchasing a fresh supply of yeast. Brewer's yeast likewise -- unless you are brewing malt liquor on a large scale, you would need to buy fresh supplies regularly. Nutritional yeast, while yummy and nutritious, has been deactivated and will not cause your bread to rise.

If you are talking about making bread truly sustainably, without buying yeast at all, you really do need a ferment/sourdough. There are many different ways of doing this, and they're not as hard to keep alive as you think. Probably one of the easiest and most informative explanations of how to do this I've read is in "Bread Matters" by Andrew Whitley -- a book I highly recommend to anybody who is interested in baking their own bread.

connie said...

well, to be truthfull, those werent the questions we had. I know that nutritional yeast wont rise my bread. But, i would like to continue to have it despite that. i know vaguely that it is grown on molasses and then "deactivated" and then fortified with B12 from bacteria, but thats all i got. i have no problem with sourdough starters, and have used them successfully for many years. We would like to know how to start and maintain a yeast colony ourselves, and then to preserve it for later use. there must be a way since we can buy it dried in the grocery store and keep it in the fridge for a year. (thought it might just be one of those things that you have to keep running all the time and is much too timeconsuming to just preserve.) I know also that there are ways to continuously harvest yeast for brewing (much like a sourdough starter infact) im just wondering if there are ways to keep it active and dry (my husband really just wants to duplicate active dry yeast packages, cause he is way more intersted in this than anyone should be) really if we had a colony of brewers yeast we'd be good, cause i can leven bread with that and it is also nutritious, but not so yummy as ny.
I mean, people brewed beer before you could buy brewers yeast in bulk from the coop and people levened bread that wasnt sourdough before fleischmann's. so someone has to know how to do it.

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

Connie --

Click here to read about how commercial yeast is made.

A sourdough starter IS a home-made yeast colony. Before the mid-1800's, you couldn't buy yeast. Active dried yeast is something that comes out of a factory. If somebody out there knows otherwise, please enlighten me, but I think you are trying to do something that's not possible here.

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